Scripted by Michaela Meaney, animated by Next Media Animation.
By Michaela Meaney
At 53 years old, arthritis controlled Timothy Byrne’s life. The pain in his hip affected just about everything he did. He could not sleep. He had trouble getting in and out of the car. Even bending over to start the lawn mower felt like a challenge.
“I really couldn’t pull the pull cord on the lawn mower anymore because of the pain factor,” said Byrne, of Wickliffe, Ohio, now 57 years old. “And, you know, if it takes three of four pulls to get the lawn mower started, I could hardly pull it once without being in excruciating pain, much less walking to mow it once it started.” Continue reading “Hip resurfacing offers bone-saving alternative to total hip replacement”
Two wind turbines provide energy for a Walgreens in Evanston at 635 Chicago Ave.
By Michaela Meaney
Wildlife advocates see enormous risks for birds, bats and other animals as wind turbines spread across the country. The major concern is how to prevent wildlife fatalities in the push to go green.
“We’ve rushed toward alternative energy without having the knowledge or experience to control it regularly,” said Michael Hutchins, at a recent panel discussion hosted by the Chicago Ornithological Society and Sierra Club. Continue reading “Wildlife face fatalities in the push for green energy”
By Michaela Meaney
Friends of the Parks filed a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court to block the proposed lakefront site for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. The action is filed against the Chicago Park District and the city of Chicago. The group states in the suit that the site violates the Illinois public trust doctrine.
“Ultimately Chicago does not want to look back and regret an injudicious decision to sacrifice our lakefront, Chicago’s greatest natural asset,” said Cassandra Francis, president of Friends of the Parks, during a press conference Thursday. “So let’s use ‘The Force’ to do good for Chicago.” Continue reading “Friends of the Parks sues Chicago to block proposed Lucas museum site”
Photos by Michaela Meaney/MEDILL
A bull – the term for a male bison – grabs a bite to eat while in the coral. “The prairie endures with grazers,” says Jay Stacy, a volunteer at the Nachusa Grasslands, now home to 30 bison. The bison currently graze on a 500-acre area but by next year that should expand to 1,500 acres.
A bull stares down the camera after getting a drink inside the coral. It’s important not to get too close to the bison, Stacy says, for a bison may charge and injure either a person or itself.
“If you build it, they will come,” goes the phrase from the 1989 movie, “Field of Dreams.” And the bison have already come – 30 arrived to the Nachusa Grasslands throughout the month of October.
Mike Saxton, a restoration technician at Nachusa, explains the work that went into creating this 6-foot, high-tensile electric fence. Volunteers and workers at Nachusa spent the entire summer in 2014 constructing and placing the fence; each post is actually old oil field piping from Mississippi that the crew cut down and repurposed to create the fence.
Saxton has worked on and off with Nachusa since 2007, and has met many volunteers. “We’re a crew, we’re a team, and you really feel that,” says Saxton, in regard to the work he does with volunteers.
Jay Stacy, a volunteer who has spent over 20 years with Nachusa, walks with a map in hand to show just how much land belongs to the Nachusa Grasslands. When Stacy first started, Nachusa, which is owned by the Nature Conservancy, consisted of only 250 acres. Now the site measures nearly 3,500 acres.
Stacy shows new volunteer, Brian Bielema, a map explaining how much land belongs to Nachusa. “I’m retired now,” Bielema says, who answered an ad in the paper to volunteer with bison management. “I’m only a ways away and I can donate some of my time.” Bielema joins a group of dedicated volunteers who help run Nachusa; the Nature Conservancy only employs two full-time workers at the site.
Stacy crouches down behind little blue stem, one of the most common prairie grasses that make up Nachusa. Volunteers like Stacy help collect little blue stem, along with other wildflowers and grasses, in an effort to restore the prairie. On collecting seeds by hand Stacy says, “You’re like little Fed-Ex drivers. You drive around to where they are.”
Look out at this prairie and imagine it filled with bison, Stacy says. You don’t have to imagine that any longer because the bison have already arrived, and will graze on the pictured area as more land at Nachusa is opened up next year.
By Michaela Meaney
Chicagoan Jay Stacy saw the ad in the paper – a call for volunteers to restore damaged prairie in Franklin Grove, a remnant of the vast grasslands that once covered Illinois. That was 20 years ago and Stacy, then 47, had never heard of taking destroyed land and reversing the harm.
Stacy telephoned the Illinois Nature Conservancy, owners of the then 250-acre site called Nachusa Grasslands, and asked, “Once land is destroyed, can you do that?”
The Nature Conservancy believed it could. With that hope, Stacy picked up, moved to farm country and then settled into a seasonal campground, 100 miles west of Chicago just outside of Rochelle. He lived in a trailer for the first two years before taking up permanent residence in the city of Oregon.
Continue reading “Nachusa Grasslands: Home for both bison and volunteers”
By: Michaela Meaney and Melissa Schenkman
Climate change is happening at a rate faster than ever before, experts said Wednesday.
“It’s actually occurring about 10 times faster, over 10 times faster actually, than what has been observed since the end of the last ice age,” said Don Wuebbles, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climatologist. “So this is going on extremely rapidly.”
Wuebbles and WGN chief meteorologist Tom Skilling discussed the uptick in extreme weather, climate change, and what it means for the future at a breakfast gathering at Chicago’s Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC),. This gathering comes just ahead of the 40th session of the IPCC in Copenhagen, Denmark, Oct. 27-30.
Continue reading “Climate change on the rise but you can take action, experts say”
Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze takes you on a tour of recurring patterns in nature through interactive installations. The news permanent exhibit opened this week at the Museum of Science and Industry.
The exhibit’s main feature is a self-guided, 1,800-square-foot mirror maze, tying together the concepts of recurring patterns and symmetry.
Using one of the exhibit’s interactive monitors, Gary Luz of Round Lake Park, creates a 3-D mountain range with his father, Romeo. “I like the interactive and actually creating something that mimics nature,” Luz said.
By Michaela Meaney
Have you ever noticed the spiral pattern shared by a seahorse’s tail and a snail’s shell? Or that the branches on a tree look just like the bronchioles in your lungs? Or why your arms, when spread out side to side, measure nearly the same length as your height?
These aren’t coincidences. They deliver a series of mathematical equations connecting nature and our lives. The Museum of Science and Industry’s new permanent exhibit, Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze, gives a new way to look at the world by identifying the connections all around us.
“The same patterns that exist in nature also exist in our bodies,” said John Beckman, the museum’s director of exhibit design and development. “I think it’s really cool to discover there’s all this math around you every day.”
Continue reading “Numbers in Nature: Explore the links at the Museum of Science and Industry”
By Michaela Meaney
‘Cougars, gray wolves and black bears – oh, my!’ Illinois residents may soon be able to justify misquoting the famous phrase from Dorothy and her friends.
These animals, missing from the state wildlife populations for more than 150 years, are slowly making their way back. So what do you do when they head down your yellow brick road – or driveway? In a recent conference at the Brookfield Zoo, academics, wildlife workers and volunteers discussed the return of these furry friends and how to prepare for their return. Continue reading “Furry friends – or foes – return to Illinois”
By Michaela Meaney
Rebecca Collings, a museum Science Action center ecologist, takes a photo of an unknown plant that Robert Rice, 50, of Rogers Park, brought in to have identified at the Field Museum’s first Identification Day. “Since it’s not a regional plant, I think that’s why I stumped her,” Rice said, after Collings was unable to give the name of the plant.
In her first visit to the Field Museum, Lilianna Cannady, 1, of Aurora, touches a Madagascar hissing cockroach held by Robin DeLaPena, collections assistant and imaging specialist in the insect division. During Identification Day brave visitors could also get their hands on a live museum millipede.
Not all rocks that fall from the sky are meteorites. Surya Rout, a post-doctoral research scientist who works with meteorites explained how rare it is for a person to actually find one. “Mostly they look pretty strange so that’s why they bring it here,” Rout said.
Gerry and Nancy Ocampo show the vein-like quality on a rock he brought back from his travels. “I thought it was a fossil like algae or something like that,” said Gerry, of Bridgeview. Surya Rout identified the vein-like quality as the rock-forming mineral feldspar during the Field Museum’s first Identification Day.
During Identification Day, specimens from museum collections, such as reptiles and amphibians, were on display for close-up viewing.
Shaquana Maxwell, 29, of Oak Park, looks at (l to r) a bottled bull snake, viper boa and an eastern massasauga rattlesnake on display during Identification Day. “It’s pretty cool that these are real life animals that they’re putting into jars,” Maxwell said.
Ruth Norton, chief conservator, explains the uses of a possible stone ax to Ella Barnett, 8, from La Grange Park. Karen Benjamin, Ella’s mother and a history professor at St. Xavier University, stands behind her.
Jochen Gerber, collections manager for invertebrates, helps Sumi Lim, 6, from South Korea as she takes a closer look at Gastrocopta pentodon, a tiny mollusk just 2 millimeters in size. This mollusk is a museum specimen originally from Joliet, Illinois.
Ever wonder if that rock you saw fall from the sky is a meteorite? Or what type of shell you picked up on the beach at Hilton Head? And just who is the bug that’s wandered up your wall? Have no fear, the Chicago Field Museum is here to identify your discoveries.
The museum’s recent Identification Day – a first – invited visitors to bring in fossils, insects and other objects or critters they wanted identified by museum researchers. Continue reading “Cockroaches and meteor-wrongs get the right ID at the Field Museum”